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ADV NewsUtah To Require Off-Road Course For OHV Riders In The State 

Utah To Require Off-Road Course For OHV Riders In The State 

Both Utah residents and visitors will be required to complete the test.

Published on 11.28.2022

Everyone loves Utah’s trails, from the famous slickrock to the red sands, canyon mazes and massive stone arches. If you haven’t already ridden there, you’re planning on it. In fact, the state’s, and especially the belle of the off-road ball, Moab’s, fast-growing popularity as a destination for off-road enthusiasts has prompted officials to come up with solutions to control environmental impact, as well as reduce conflict with local residents.

As a result, beginning February 1, 2023, those who operate an off-highway vehicle (OHV) on public lands in the state, will be mandated to complete an online education course and test before indulging in Utah’s magic dust. This, the result of House Bill 180 “Off-road Vehicle Safety Education,” which passed during Utah’s 2022 General Session last winter.

No doubt this news will raise some hackles, yet the hope is that this program will prove to be a good alternative to trail closures that will affect all. Plus, it sounds super easy. For one thing, it’s free, not the money grab many would assume. It’s also projected to take less than 30 minutes to complete, and is a one-time thing. Pass the course, and you’re good for life. The existing requirement for those under 18 without a license to take an online course at the cost of $35 will continue.


The program will include education concerning respectful, sustainable trail use, for example, “the importance of gates and fences used in agriculture and how to properly close a gate.” Other messaging, such as what’s found in the county’s “5 Tips For An Awesome Moab Adventure” public service video will also be included, covering things like staying on designated trails and riding respectfully through residential areas. In one clip from the video Moab’s then Police Chief Jim Winder reminds us his town and surrounding lands are “not an amusement park.”  

He goes on to explain how increased interest in off-roading — especially use of UTVs and ATVs — combined with the mecca-like draw of Moab with its fun bars and restaurants, has seen complaints from residents and businesses increase in lockstep with crowd growth. “To maintain civility and the opportunities we all enjoy, we’ve got to be respectful.”

It’s not like these local folks are having some Not in My Backyard! Moment. In fact most of the residents who’ve remained in Moab benefit in one way or another from the now year-round tourist machine. They’re just asking visitors to treat the town like it’s their own.

Another major issue the bill is intended to support is the constant struggle to protect Utah’s awe-inspiring natural habitats. The state is brimming with mind-blowing high desert landscapes, but as many know, the desert rangeland looks hardened and tough, but it’s actually one of the most delicate environments on the planet. Just one off-piste overtaking of another vehicle, and you’ve created a scar on the biocrust that can take many decades to heal.

In addition to reminders about responsible land use and etiquette both in town and on the trails and protection of Utah’s gorgeous landscape, the program will offer safety reminders (one gallon of water per person per day in the summer is no joke), “pack it in pack it out” responsibilities – yes, including poop, as well as clear explanations on vehicle ratings and what trails are legal and appropriate for those different rides, including UTV, side-x-side, ATV, buggies, 4x4s and, of course, motorcycles.

Utah to require OHV test for off-road motorcycle riders
Photo by Spencer Hill

Unlike some other legislation, this bill was not concocted by politicians looking for an easy way to get votes from the non-riding public who, as we’ve seen, can easily be led to demonize off-road vehicles and their users and blindly vote for land closures. In fact, H.B 108 was largely the invention of Brett Stewart, a longtime OHV operator and president of Utah OHV Advocates, who said to Moab Times about off-road users that “5 to 10 percent are bad apples that give us all a bad name – primarily OHV users who drive off-trail or through roadless areas.”

He pointed out that the legislation was spearheaded and supported by Utah’s OHV groups as a way to nip land closures and access restrictions in the bud. “I didn’t just do it my way,” Stewart said. “I did what I think was best for the community, to protect our public lands and access for us and future generations.”

The flyer for the program mentions printing your certificate, or more conveniently, saving it digitally on your smartphone. If someone can’t prove their compliance, there is a provision for penalties that might range from fines to public service. Certainly the existence of the mandatory course negates the chance for violators to claim they didn’t know the rules.

The mandate applies to Utah residents and visitors with those participating in a guided tour or a sanctioned OHV event being exempt from the required course. More will be revealed as this statewide program in Utah unfurls in 2023, and there’s no doubt OHV activists from other states will be watching, hoping to implement something similar. Access to the course will be open on January 1, 2023, with more details soon to be available on this Utah state website.

There are already hundreds of trails in the Moab area facing closure and thousands more nationwide. Taking this course feels like an easy way to be proactive. And heck, we might even learn something helpful in the process. 

Author: Jamie Elvidge

Jamie has been a motorcycle journalist for more than 30 years, testing the entire range of bikes for the major print magazines and specializing in adventure-travel related stories. To date she’s written and supplied photography for articles describing what it’s like to ride in all 50 states and 43 foreign countries, receiving two Lowell Thomas Society of American Travel Writer’s Awards along the way. Her most-challenging adventure yet has been riding in the 2018 GS Trophy in Mongolia as Team AusAmerica’s embedded journalist.

Author: Jamie Elvidge

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22 thoughts on “Utah To Require Off-Road Course For OHV Riders In The State 

  1. I know this will get hate responses but, the truth hurts sometimes. Utah is doomed. They have had the largest increase in population in the last two years. 98% of the invaders are from California. They have infested Utah Government, and the Conservancy, which is why many iconic trails in the Moab area will be closed to any motorized traffic. How they were able to swindle BLM Land is beyond me. But then they are expert at swindling elections too. Moab (under their new Democrat Mayor) just made street legal ATV’s and SXS’s illegal on Moab streets, unless they have a Utah registration. Which you can’t obtain unless you actually live there. I’m guessing that nixes about 98% of the tour trade for Moab. How long do you think they’ll survive with hiker and biker business? People say “Leave politics out of this”. Well, politics are all of this. And if complying people don’t wake up and take back what is theirs, it will all be gone. Last year was my 9 year in a row heading out there. It was also my last. I will take my ATV, and dual sport riding business to states that welcome me. West Virginia, AZ, ID. If any of you reading this has ever been there and ridden Poison Spider….say goodbye. It’s at the top of the closed list. Send those Californians back where they came from!!

      • You aren’t particularly bright, are you? If this vacation location didn’t have out of staters visiting with all their money, Moab wouldn’t exist. Think before you fart.

        • I went to Moab last spring and was so turned off by ATV excess I swore I’d never return. I rode Poison Spider and the Portal on my Mt Bike and was definitely put off by the line of fat asses in their side by sides. I love hearing this news. I live in ALaska not California.

  2. “Moab (under their new Democrat Mayor) just made street legal ATV’s and SXS’s illegal on Moab streets, unless they have a Utah registration.”

    Unless Moab’s official website is out of date, the above quoted statement is untrue. What is true is that irresponsible SxS owners will eventually get OHV operation in and around Moab shut down.

    Street-legal ATV drivers must follow the same regulations required for motor vehicles, including license regulations, insurance, and safety inspections.

    OHVs may be driven on streets, paved roads, and highways (not interstate highways) in the Moab area when the vehicles are:

    Properly licensed and registered as street-legal.
    Properly insured and inspected for highway use.
    In compliance with all of the Utah street-legal equipment requirements including headlamps, tail lights, turn signals, a braking system other than the parking brake, a muffler, a horn, and other equipment.”

    Anyone who operates a nonresident off-highway vehicle on any public land, trail, street, or highway in Utah must:

    Apply for an off-highway vehicle decal issued exclusively for an OHV owned by a non-resident of Utah;
    Pay an annual off-highway vehicle user fee;
    Provide evidence that the owner is a non-resident”

    • Let me guess…You’re from California? LOL!! I was there about 4 months ago, (for my 9th year in a row) and got a ticket in my street legal, registered Side by side. My license showed I am a Non-Resident…90% of the people there are non-residents.
      The cop flat out told me they changed the website info and then ordered police to start ticketing. You can lay out all your nonsense, but I got ticketed. And was told my WI registration didn’t qualify anymore….It used to. For the 8 previous years we were out problems. He also said that Colorado was the largest segment of visitors and they don’t register in Colorado. So their biggest segment will now not be welcomed.
      People say this is to curb the noise. If that’s what it’s all about, ticket loud machines. This is more like gun confiscation. A bad guy shoots and everyone pays. This is Liberal Infestation. They are worse than COVID. If it was a simple off highway decal (tax) I have no problem with that. Most Red States do not gouge people like California does. On average my wife and I spend over $3000 in Moab between the RV park, gas, and restaurants. We have become friends with many local business owners. Most people would think I contributed enough tax dollars and supported the local economy.
      Want me to copy/paste my ticket? You seem good at doing that but, not a clue on reality.

      • Utah got rid of reciprocity. So no, your Wisconsin OHV plate is no longer sufficient there. You would have been legal if you had purchased a non-resident permit.

      • Typical right-wing reactionary: can’t respond with facts and logic so resorts to ad hominem attacks (look it up – I’m sure you’ll need to). Rather than adapting to a changing world, they want to whine and complain that the world won’t adapt to them.

        You don’t live there, so why don’t you STFU. Clearly the local voters elected the government they want, and if it doesn’t do the will of the (local) people they can vote them out. Or, alternatively, move there and vote your conscience – or whatever it is that drives you to vote however you vote.

        Instead of going onto moto forums and whining like a beeyatch, why don’t you just take your dollars elsewhere like you’re (very publicly) proclaiming you will? I’d bet nobody comes here to read political screeds (you can look that up, too) so why don’t you just keep them where they belong. It wouldn’t surprise me if most folks who come here are sick and tired of politics – and especially your obviously preferred politics of grievance – and just want to talk bikes. So why don’t you just FO to some political outlet where your rants are expected.

  3. Good for life? Tell me more oh benevolent master. NOTHING power lusting greedy nitwits that couldn’t make it in civilian life is One And Done! Not far from now it will be changed to 100 “but good for life.” Then it will be good for 5 years. Then good for 3 years. Then . . . . Then . . . . BTW, who’s land is it anyway?
    Utah was rated as the 2nd most lawless corrupt state in America.

  4. Wow this is just ridiculous this is something that WILL keep me from ever going back to Utah! Can’t wait to see how many people just stop coming altogether! Nanny STATE!


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